Serious Eats

In Our Community Corner: Meet Kim Lau (aka: 'gargupie')

Kim Lau, aka gargupie, is one of the most avid commenters on our site. She is a vegan, loves to bake, and is the focus of this week's interview In Our Community Corner — The Mgmt.

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camera shy Kim

Name: Kim Lau
Location: Queens, NY
Website:thoughtfulplate.wordpress.com

So you are a vegan, can you tell us what led to that decision in your life?

It was a gradual process, starting from being a pescatarian, to a vegetarian, and finally to a vegan. After I read and learned about the cruel treatments and all the scary and harmful injections given to animals, that was my last draw and never turned back. However, I have been a vegan for only the past two years, so I am still a 'vegan baby'. :)

Do you ever miss having an omnivorous diet?

To be honest, I do. Like Kenji could probably attest to my feelings, it is just so much easier to dine out with friends and family when you are at most a vegetarian. A vegan at a dim sum restaurant? Not so much. Could be done, but with some obstacles. So, I do miss being able to just head into any dining establishment and order off an item off the menu without making special request. Also, I do miss having fish and Greek yogurt as a source of protein. Luckily, beans are my 'friends' without any Beano assistance, if you know what I mean. :)

What is one of your earliest food memories?

It will always originate from my childhood meals. Growing up in Hong Kong, I reminisce the street cart fish balls on a stick and Hong Kong egg cakes that I shared (or not) with my cousins. Those afternoon snacks always spoil our appetite and we would get lectured at the dinner table. We would lied about our snack trips, but with that curry stain branded on my shirt (I was not smart enough to use a napkin back then), the adults were not that gullible.

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[Photograph: Paul Yee]

What is the most memorable bite of food you've ever eaten?

One fond food memory is the latenight meal that my sweet grandmom cooked for me. The default was a hot bowl of mei fun (spiced with the leftover ramen MSG packet) with a strand of choi sum for 'color' and 'healthy component'. It is not gourmet stuff, but definitely created out of love and care. Simplicity is bliss.

Is there something that you've eaten recently that you can't stop thinking about?

As I have posted on the Talk thread recently (on my search for the best San Francisco sourdough without flying over to the west coast), I have been on a sourdough bread kick lately, but now that I have over-indulged a bit, I am kind of tired of it now. That is my problem - moderation.

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[Photograph: gargupie]

Will you tell us about what you love to cook most?

I love baking. I consider it a therapeutic project for my mind and the opportunity to offer something sweet to others is another boost to my maternal fulfillment. Nevertheless, I am not a seasoned baker. Never had a culinary education. Baking as a hobby is just something fun for me to do during the weekend. I will never see myself creating complicated layered cakes or fancy-schmancy desserts. Rather, quick bread and simple cookies are my favorite things to bake, with banana bread, pumpkin tiramisu, or even molasses cookies as my so-called signature dishes.

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[Photograph: Elizabeth Barbone]

What is your favorite aroma in the kitchen?

I actually adore the smell of cooking rice (even though I am not a rice eater). I guess it is a Pavlov conditioning to my childhood meal with my grandparents.

Is there anything you hate eating?

Being a vegan has already limited my choice of foods, so there is not really anything that I hate to eat right now. But back then, I hated bony fish because I once choke on a piece at home and I was home alone. I thought I was going to go bye-bye.

If you had to give up grains or produce for the rest of your life, which one would you?

That is like asking a musician if you want your left or right hand to get chopped! Well, I just cannot foresee myself going 'green-less', so as much as I love bread, I would close my eyes and 'mini mini minimo' and give up...gasp! Grains.

If you could eat or cook a meal with anyone who would it be and why?

Without a doubt, my grandmom (mom's side). She raised me and I would love to have that opportunity to cook for her, though that is not possible now. I still remembered her scent distinctively. I visited Hong Kong one summer and on an early morning of my departure, she woke me up before the sun appeared. She tried to pull me up, but I was a 'dead body' unwilling to be uprooted off the bed. Finally, she got me half way and I hugged her for a good five minutes. That was a memorable embrace reflected in the breakfast she ate with me that morning - Chinese zongzi, all wrapped up, nice and tight. It was a comforting meal to send me off on my flight. I want to eat with her to tell her how thankful I am for her care and patience.

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Zongzi, or Joong, is a steamed banana leaf, stuffed with glutinous rice, Chinese sausage, split mung beans, salted duck eggs, and other treats. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

What would your last bite be?

My mommy's garlicky stir-fried gai lan (Chinese broccoli) with LOTS of 'wok hei'.

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[Photograph: seasaltwithfood]

When you leave New York where will your last meal be?

It will always be at home, eating my mom's foods.

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